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MEEF - Recycling Technologies  - previous page

 

Recycled Facts

The PET bottle — the bottle consumers know as #1 soda bottles — was patented in 1973 by chemist Nathaniel Wyeth, brother of  distinguished American painter Andrew Wyeth.

The first PET bottle was recycled in 1977.

The average household generates about 17 pounds of used PET bottles each year. That is equal to the amount of used aluminum.

Eight two-liter bottles equals about a pound of PET.

When PET bottles are crushed and tied into 48-inch bales, one bale can hold about 4,800 bottles and weighs about 1,200 pounds.

How is PET recycled?

Five PET bottles yield enough fiber for one extra-large T-shirt or one square foot of carpet. (Half of all polyester carpet manufactured in the United States is made from recycled plastic bottles.)

Twenty-five two-liter bottles can make one sweater.

Five two-liter PET bottles yield enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.

It takes 35 two-liter PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.

Used milk jugs (#2 HDPE) become:

     Lumber substitutes (like those green plastic park benches)
     Base cups for soda bottles
     Flower pots
     Pipe
     Toys, pails and drums
     Traffic barrier cones
     Trash cans

The American Plastics Council reports that consumers recycled almost half of all PET soda bottles produced in 1994. About one-quarter of all milk jugs were recycled.

Recycling: The Next Generation?

No one can predict what the next generation of recycling research and engineering will bring. Young engineers — really young engineers — are already contemplating the question. If this report from eighth-grader Nick Gidzak of Polar Bay, Manitoba, Canada, is any indication, the sky’s the limit.

Recycling Plastics and Mixing It With Cement to Make Bricks

This year, I entered my school science fair and got a silver medal for this project. I went to the divisional science fair and got a gold medal and the engineering award. When I went to the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium, I got an outstanding project award by the Professional Engineering Society of Manitoba.

For my project, I cut up plastic milk cartons and plastic two-liter pop containers and mixed this with cement to make bricks. I made three bricks with different amounts of plastic mixed with cement. The first brick was made with the most plastic. The second had half as much. The last brick had no plastic.

After I made the bricks, I left them outside for four months. It snowed, rained and was sunny. After four months, I brought them inside. I then pumped water over the bricks for two weeks. The water wore away the bricks and show how much erosion effect it did. The results were that the brick with the most plastic mixed in showed the least amount of erosion.

Plastic bottles. 

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